Build Your Own Reality

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 Most of us are slaves of the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves about our lives. Freedom begins the moment we become conscious of the plot line we are living and, with this insight, recognize that we can step into another story. 

– Carol S. Pearson, The Hero Within

As I move closer to my transition day away from working for a big corporation, I realize that a big part of my identity has been tied to my job and the responsibilities that go along with it. It seemed normal to feel this way while working in the corporate environment. But now things are starting to change.

I feel like I’m waking up.

I feel more exposed.

Things feel more raw.

I guess it’s because I’m aware of the reality of more freedom, being in complete control of my time, being able to create whatever I want, say whatever I want, with no one to answer to but myself.

But then there’s the flip side of that equation. There will be no more bi-weekly paycheck, no matching 401k, no paid vacations, no more ‘stability’ of working for a guaranteed return. I will be the one responsible for creating value and making sure that I’m solving real problems. Otherwise, I don’t get paid.

But here’s the thing.

This is a choice. I am choosing to create extraordinary work for myself.

Work that feels exciting.

Work that fills me with energy knowing that I am making progress with something that matters.

I am no longer bogged down with my corporate inbox, tasks that drain my energy, and doing work that I don’t really care about. I am genuinely happy about what lies ahead.

My mind has somehow expanded to understand that true abundance will never come from a job. It’s funny. I couldn’t see this while I was committed to the day-to-day grind of my job. It’s hard to see the gardens when you’re locked in jail. Abundance showed up when I began pursuing my true desires and let go of the perceived safety of my job.

Now I am focusing on finding creative ways to show others that it’s totally possible to achieve the following:

  • Create extraordinary & inspiring work
  • Make extra income doing it
  • Quit your day job (or at least be ready if your company decides to lay you off)

Now I wake up every day with the motive of enhancement. How can I enhance my family, my friends, my clients, potential customers, my blog readers, people I don’t even know yet but I would like to know?

Some people have indicated to me that it’s great that I’m able to do this but that they are in a totally different situation that doesn’t make it possible for them. They tell me “it’s just the way it is.”

What?

Hey, I realize that we all have different circumstances but many people severely discount their ability to design a life that truly represents the way they want to live.

If working 40-50 hours per week at a job, getting paid vacations, and a guaranteed paycheck are what you need, then great! I’m in your corner 100%.

But if you really desire something more, whether its making a bigger difference through your own thing, traveling the world, being in control of your income, living in a sunny location during the winter (one of my personal favorites), or being able to ski mid-week, I am here to tell you that YOU are in control!

Take responsibility for the life you want to create.

It’s time that we all (myself included) take full responsibility for the life that we create.  I will always be very clear about one thing…that we are all different and the dream that floats my boat might seem completely ridiculous to the next person. But the point is that we all have our own visions of greatness and we all have the free will to pursue it.

Now you might think that my perspective requires a certain privilege available only to those that are already wealthy, successful or otherwise endowed with choices unavailable to you.

This is not the case! This was not the case for me and it was not the case for many people I know that have consciously created their lifestyle.

The only prerequisite to a new way of life is to start creating it. You start with the vision of how you want to live and then you work toward creating the actual life that you envision.

In most cases, it won’t be easy, or straightforward or feel completely safe. But it’s your life that is on the line and I encourage you to start really living it.

I wake up every day wondering if I should go take another job in the corporate world. The allure of the big salary, the benefits and the perceived stability are appealing. But I know that there is another way for me right now. I know that it’s time for me to create extraordinary work for myself.

It’s okay to take baby steps.

“I can’t just QUIT!” people say. “I have bills to pay.” I get it. I’m not saying quit today. Before someone runs a marathon they learn how to run to the end of the block and back, then run a mile, then two miles. They run several times a week and stay healthy. Then they run a marathon.

Make a list right now. Write down every dream you have. I want to start a business. I want to travel to Africa. I want to simplify my life. I want to have the freedom from many of the worries that I have succumbed to all my life. I want to be healthy. I want to make an impact with my creativity. I want to have more time for myself.

These are not goals. These are core desires for your life. What can you do today to start practicing these desires? Who can you help today? What can you do to simplify your life today? This is how you take baby steps. This is how you eventually run towards freedom.

Challenge yourself.

I want you to think about your current life in a new way.

Ask yourself this question about your job, your relationships, where you live, and how you spend the majority of your time:

Would I want to do this if I didn’t have to?

If yes, great!

If no, it’s time to begin building your own reality. You get to decide what your reality looks like and start designing it. No one is stopping you.

What would it take to wake up excited and go to sleep fulfilled most days? Decide to move one step closer to this every day.

Plan for it.

Do it.

Michael

P.S. Tell me one thing you are 100% committed to doing differently by this time next year.

13 thoughts on “Build Your Own Reality

  1. Paul

    Hey Michael, this is a brilliant post. I totally connected to everything you say. I myself am currently working full time with a high level of responsibility. I find it particularly useful to really take advantage of good time management techniques to ensure that I spend quality time working on my project (Creativeflowevolution) as well as my music with my band. It is all a juggling game for sure. Even though I am working I find it extremely important to allow my creativity to keep growing outside of the work place to help me feel like I am living on my own terms. I love my job and do plan to keep growing my project until I am ready to take the next step. At the same time I do believe that step by step action (that is realistic is important). However there are some who take that GIANT step for immediate change and come out living their dreams. I have a video on this subject http://bit.ly/X1UuId. I think at the end of the day as long as we follow our heart’s desire there is no wrong or right way about living out our dreams and doing what we love. Thank you again Michael. PS I am committed to create a product this year to launch on my website.

    Reply
    1. Michael Knouse Post author

      Paul – Thanks for your kind words. It sounds like you have some amazing creative ventures of your own going on. I looked at your site (Creativeflowevolution) and it’s fantastic! I couldn’t agree with you more about keeping the creative flow going outside of your day job. Once I started blogging and coaching along with my job, it seemed to enhance all aspects of my day job as well.

      Keep following your heart’s desire and growing your projects on the side. And I’m holding you to creating your product this year! :-)

      – Michael

      Reply
  2. Katherine Harms
    Twitter:

    I think you are right to encourage people to dream, even to write down the dream. If you don’t dream it, you won’t do it.
    However, I think there is one piece missing in your comments. When you encounter people with fears, you don’t give them any ammunition against those fears except a dream.
    When I face the fear of failure or the fear of undesirable outcomes as a result of moving forward to my dream, I have learned an important truth: the same mental power that enabled me to dream in the first place is capable of solving problems and enduring unpleasant consequences. I think many people fail to take the first step forward, not because they lack a dream, but because they fear that they don’t have it in them the endure the problems.
    What if my customers don’t pay?
    What if I come down with a long-term illness?
    What if somebody else comes up with a product improvement I can’t beat?
    What if …….?
    I think they fear that if they don’t foresee and plan for every possible problem, they will be destroyed by something that blindsides them. They have no idea how creative they will become when the unexpected smacks them.
    I like to think of our ancestors who headed across Kansas bound for California or Oregon in covered wagons pulled by oxen. They all had dreams, and no matter what they knew, none of them could foresee all the hardships ahead. None of them knew if they could really endure and overcome their problems, but they went anyway, because they made up their minds to do it. Even the ones who died along the way had already experienced the delight of doing what they dreamed. When someone takes that first step forward, the joy starts right then, even in the middle of the plodding it takes to get to the goal.
    I believe people need to recognize that they do have it in them to endure hardship and overcome obstacles, and that it is worth it.

    Reply
    1. Michael Knouse Post author

      Hello Katherine. You are so right that it is important to know how to deal with fears that come up. I love your perspective that “the same mental power that enabled me to dream in the first place is capable of solving problems and enduring unpleasant consequences.” Love this! Fear can be so overwhelming for people and I don’t know of any other way to overcome it than setting your sights on something that is so important to you that you simply can’t not do it. Your example of the pioneers that headed West is a great one. They all had dreams and a vision for a better life and some got sick, some died, and I’m sure there were many moments of boredom, pain, resentment and regret along the way. But they were pursing what I believe was a core desire for freedom and a better life. In other words, they were really living and part of really living includes the full spectrum of life (joy, pain, suffering, hardship, etc.). It’s just part of the deal. Thank you for sharing your perspective here!
      Michael Knouse recently posted…My ‘Perfect Storm’My Profile

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  3. Sandeep Gourkanti

    Hey Michael,

    Thank you for this awesome post. I like how you were specific on mentioning the issues you brought up were core desires and not goals. I feel most people mistake the two of them all the time.

    I also liked how you said to take responsibility for your all your actions. I believe this is key for a successful and fulfilling life. Taking responsibility and not blaming others for when mistakes or failures arises, only serves to make one better in the long run. I don’t settle for short term gains, I want to play the long term game of life.

    Reply
    1. Michael Knouse Post author

      Hello Sandeep. Thank you for your comments. I believe that it is so important to differentiate your core desires from your goals. Your core desires are innate. They are a deep part of us that cannot by denied – at least not over the long haul. Our core desires want to be expressed and almost pull us forward in a specific direction. Suppressing them always leads to unhappiness and discontent. Goals, on the other hand, are markers. We set them and then work to achieve them. Our core desires drive us and goals are something we move towards. I’m so glad that you appreciated the difference between core desires and goals. Follow your core desires and then set goals in alignment with them. Then life will become better and better! :-)
      Michael Knouse recently posted…My ‘Perfect Storm’My Profile

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  4. Justin Harmon
    Twitter:

    Hey Michael,

    Love this! “That’s just the way it is” <– The story of my life. I've always been a dreamer and before I started taking action on those dreams, I was always told that same statement. I've always responded with some contempt with "No, that's not the way it is. That's just the way you perceive it." Among other things, that phrase led me on the path to choosing to create my own freedom, work towards escaping the corporate world, and help other people see that your dreams are attainable.

    I can see we are on similar paths and I can definitely relate to everything you said. Great work man!
    Justin Harmon recently posted…Walking the Line Between Fear and FulfillmentMy Profile

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    1. Michael Knouse

      Hi Justin. Thanks for the comments. Fun to see that we are moving together down this path. Just one step at a time – that’s my mantra to keep moving forward. Looking forward to seeing your business continue to evolve and serve.
      Michael Knouse recently posted…My ‘Perfect Storm’My Profile

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  5. Angela van Son
    Twitter:

    Hi Michael,

    You make such an important point. I remember when I was selfemployed for one and a half years, and friend of mine looked at me and said: “you are treating yourself like you are a boss”. He meant I was keeping very strict working hours and allowed myself no liberty and no flexibility. He was SO right.

    I loved my work, but there was no reason at all why I shouldn’t allow myself to drink coffee with a friend during day time.

    It’s taken me years to step away from that kind of thinking, and to not feel guilty when I go for a walk during office hours. I’m still very bad at taking a day off, especially if there’s no specific reason for it :).

    I am learning, and step by step I’m creating a new reality. Part of that journey is to create a flourishing coaching business and work less as a trainer.

    My 100% committed goal for next year is serving lots of people as Procrastination Coach, and support them in feel better about their lives and better about themselves. I am committed to creating time and space to build my business. I am also committed to taking the time and space to relax on that journey.

    Thanks for this inspiring post,
    Angela
    Angela van Son recently posted…Free e-courseMy Profile

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    1. Michael Knouse

      Angela – thank you so much for sharing your perspective about keeping balance and fun in the picture. It’s so easy to get caught up with working all the time. In fact, it’s even easier to do this when you love your work! I am also learning to make time for renewal and the importance of this. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but so vital. Thanks for sharing your 100% commitment for next year. I love your idea and that you’re making it a priority. Isn’t it great knowing that people will be forever changed because of the work that you offer? You are doing inspirational work and I look forward to watching it expand.
      Michael Knouse recently posted…My ‘Perfect Storm’My Profile

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  6. Wendy

    Michael, I love your posts! They are always so inspiring!!!

    By this time next year I plan on doing at least half time what I love, and half of what is obligation and traditional. I am already working towards that, but I really need to work harder at it. Anything is possible in our lives, it just takes work and time! But it is all worth it!!

    Thank you so much for the inspiration and motivation – now time for me to get back to “work”! :)
    Wendy recently posted…Why Being a Morning Person is an Unbelievably Good IdeaMy Profile

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  7. Daisy
    Twitter:

    Exactly!! You nailed it with this post, Michael. We, I’m including myself here, take our decisions for granted. Even when we choose to follow a certain path there’s a sense of ‘fitting in’ when we complain about it. You’re right, if you don’t see yourself doing what you’re doing if it wasn’t a have to, it’s time for a change. Baby steps are so powerful!

    By this time next year, I hope to have launched a major project I am just starting to work on and be making the difference I have set myself up to make. Through it all, really be enjoying the process that running a business has to offer.

    Great post!
    Daisy recently posted…Shut That Gremlin Up, Cheer Yourself OnMy Profile

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